. We made it to Hollywood and were surprised by how run down it all looked, not that it put us off, it's just that 'Hollywood' you expect glitz and glam but as we later found out, it's a misconception - the real glitz and glam is only in the 6 miles of Beverly Hills. Our hotel though looked good, we hadn't paid that much so didn't expect too much but it looked fine, it had a lot of character too, the while place painted with scenes from the movies and each room number in their own Hollywood star. We couldn't check in until 2 so we went for breakfast in the diner that's next to our hotel - our first experience of a real American diner, we got a booth and ordered our breakfast from the huge menu and sleepily took everything in. To be honest, it's pretty lucky that we were so jet lagged, on looking back the diner seemed so dodgy, especially when a guy wearing shades and a leather jacket came in shouting ' ahhh my two favourite people' (luckily not at us but bizarrely not at anyone), he got ignored and then left! As I wrote on my facebook wall, I really flet like we were in Pulp Fiction. After our breakfast, we took a drive down Hollywood, by this time, I was so tired that whilst Rob was talking to me, I was literally falling asleep whilst responding to him, my words becoming slower and s l o w e r. We drove back to the hotel and parked up in the car park, put the seats back and within seconds fell asleep - a few hours later we could get into our room and settle, all the traveling had really tired us out that day
After another few hours rest, we were ready for our dinner, we weren't sure where to go but we both had fond memories of the 'Red Lobster' from family holidays to Florida when we were little so we tapped it into the sat nav and followed the directions. The Red Lobster looked a lot more modern than we remembered, no more big, bright, red, neon lobster on the outside, it actually looked like a real restaurant! We went in and were shown to a booth by a young guy who asked us where we were from and when we replied 'England' he through it must be' so cool to have and accent'. He didn't believe us when we told him that to us he had and accent and sounded like he was from the movies, his reaction was 'me, no way, that's crazy' - ha ha. We knew that the portions would be huge so we ordered carefully, we shared a started of coconut shrimp which was so tasty and both had parmesan crusted tilapia for main, it was really delicious and the staff were so friendly, it was only when we got back to the hotel and I looked up Inglewood (the area we had had gone to) and found out that according to lyrics of a 2Pac song 'Inglewood always up to no good' that I was a bit shocked as Inglewood was good for us!
The next day we made our way to Universal Studios, LA was forecast a lot of rain for the next two days but it hadn't come yet and luckily we had bought coats in New zealand so we were all wrapped up and ready for the cold. We walked through the 'City walk' at Universal with all the bright lights, Hard Rock Cafe, Bubba Gump Shrimp, Ben and Jerry's, massive neon lights and signs a feast for the eyes and just so unreal. We got to the theme park and bought an annual pass for the same price of a day pass just in case we wanted to go back and there we were at Universal Studios LA for a great day out
. We had such a fantastic time, the whole place it just catered for a great time and takes you out of reality to a different world, a world filled with candy, special effects, rides and most of all fun! We firstly went on the world famous studio tour, which takes you around Universal Studios on a tram through some of the film sets such as Bates Motel (where Norman Bates turns up out of the blue), Jaws, a 3D experience of King Kong, Wisteria Lane, Jurassic Park and lots of other familiar sets from Universal films. It was such a great tour and we enjoyed it so much. We then went to the House of Horrors, now I'm a self confessed chicken but wanted to do as much as I could so went in ready anything. It's a walk through attraction where live characters jump out on you whilst you wander about past the swamps, hanging bodies, mummies and other creepy things. Me and Rob clung on to each other for dear life whilst, Dracula, a mummy, Chucky, a mad scientist and all sortsof other weird and wonderful characters jumped out on us. It was scary but so well done, I screamed my way through the whole thing and my big, strong Rob even ran off and left me behind at one point - my HERO ha ha! After that the rain that was forecast started and it poured down, by then though, we were having so much fun that nothing would put us off, even if I was wearing sandals as I had no winter shoes with me! We paid $3 each for some rain poncho's and carried on enjoying the escapism, we took the Simpsons 'virtual' ride which is like a roller coaster but indoors where the carriage that holds 8 people moves in sync with a crazy ride through Springfield ahown on screens that surround the whole room
. We went on the Jurassic Park river ride and Shrek in 4D (moving chairs and water squirted on your face when Donkey sneezes!), we enjoyed every minute of the whole day and left the place with smiles from ear to ear and soaking wet. We went for dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe at Universal for our dinner making sure that we didn't get back to reality too quickly and could revel in the fantasy land for just a bit longer.
The next day we visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as we were staying on Hollywood Blvd, we only had to walk down the road until we started to see the stars on the floor - like you've seen on the TV so many times. We looked out for any stars that we liked for photo opportunities but for the first half didn't have a clue who any of the people were. Then as we got to Grauman's Chinese Theater we started to see what we expected, the hand/foot prints in the concrete and the signatures by the side, then as we crossed the road and started to walk back, we found more stars and choose to take photo's with our favourites and me taking photos of the many many people with the surname Williams! The Boulevard itself is a little tacky, touristy and busy but it's still a great experience and we were glad that we went and looking down most of the streets off Hollywood you can see the 'Hollywood' sign in the hills and then you can't really believe you're there seeing something so iconic
. LA we found is a big mix, the tall palms that stick up high into the sky everywhere, the lights and signs that line each street, the mountains that surround LA such a strange mix of cityscape and nature, the massive houses of Beverly Hills and the most expensive shops of Rodeo Drive, the constant sounds of police sirens that go on until all hours down Hollywood Boulevard - such a mixed bag and we liked it a lot, Rob even liked the crazy driving after a few days getting used to it!
Because of the weather (and the jet lag) we didn't make it to visit the beach but we have a few more days in LA when we get back from the Big Apple and a little bit more exploring to do. We did however re-visit Universal Studios as we loved it so much, we re-visited the 'House of Horrors' like pro's and where scared even more so than before, we went on the studio tour again and Norman Bates tried to stab me, we visited the attractions that we missed last time and we had another fantastic day! I have no shame in admitting that I lined up with all the children to get a picture with Shrek either or that all of a sudden Rob climbed over the rope to join me after saying he 'wasn't bothered' when I got in line!
Our short trip to LA was soon coming to an end for us to take the four hour flight to New York but lucky for us, it wouldn't be a big Hollywood good bye quite yet as we would be coming back in a few days time to drive to San Fransisco. So for now, there will be no tears and no big Hollywood kiss goodbye, we'll just say Hasta la vista baby - we'll be back!
After a twelve and a half hour flight from Auckland, we re-lived February the 17th in Los Angeles, we had gained 21 hours and hadn't slept for about 24! When we landed at LAX and made our way through the tight security, we were hit by the morning cold - so much for us missing out the British winter, we were met by the American one instead and brrrrr was it cold! We took the free shuttle bus to our car hire company to pick up our car that we had organised online in Australia - the beauty of the Internet. In true LA style, we were given a 3.5L V8 muscle car, unlike in Newzealand where we stood out from the crown, here we would blend in nicely and it was a bargain for the price. My job as navigator would now be passed over to the GPS system, LA is full of freeways, sometimes 6 lanes wide so my map reading just wouldn't cut the mustard and not just that, I could barely keep my eyes open! We had booked a hotel on Hollywood Boulevard so tapped it in and made our way there, it would be too early to book in but we needed to get our bearings and didn't know where else to go quite yet